Friday, September 17, 2010

Colorbrick: Choosing Fabrics

This post is part of a series {Colorbrick} a Beginner's Quilt-Along.  You can join in anytime, even if you're not a beginner!  Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

I cannot tell you how excited I am that so many of you want to participate!  I am completely honored.  Well, I can tell you're ready to get started!  Let's talk about the part that makes us all giddy...

Choosing Your Prints

You'll need at least 10 fat quarters to complete the Colorbrick Quilt.  But, guess what, you can use more if you like!  I'm using these 13 fat quarters from the Modern Meadow collection by Joel Dewberry (found here and here).
for {Colorbrick} Quilt-Along

So, how did I choose?  I am making this quilt for my sister, who wants a quilt with navy, wine and burnt orange.  At first I tried to piece these colors together from different lines.  But, since I shop on the internet for fabric, that is pretty darn hard.  Modern Meadow had some great prints in my sister's preferred colors.  And, the beauty of using a designer's collection is that you can trust it to match (one wine and another, for example) and to coordinate (this navy harmonizes well with the orange).  Off to a good start!  Next, I added in some brown prints for a neutral.  So far this quilt was looking pretty dark (navy, wine, burnt orange, bark brown).  To give it more variety in value I added the lightest brown herringbone and some aqua blue prints (a color favored by her husband).

At this point, I was pretty happy with my selections.  I had 11 fat quarters.  After settling on making the Colorbrick style, I tried to pinpoint what makes me love this quilt so much.

At home

And I decided, that what I love most is the way the colors dance as the eye is drawn from brick to brick.  How does that happen?  It's because of the wide variety of colors and value in the quilt (all thanks to Anna Maria Horner, of course!).  So... I opted to add 2 Modern Meadow yellow prints to keep the navy, wine, orange, aqua and brown company.  A fuller spectrum of the rainbow = happy color dance!  Done.

So, as you go about choosing your fabrics, here are my main thoughts:

Using a Designer's Collection is a smart and convenient choice, especially if you're shopping online.  The designer has done most of the work for you!

If Piecing Together from Different Collections shop in person or search Flickr for more pictures of the fabrics you are considering for more accurate coordinating.  Some ideas for color inspiration - a favorite color in all it's many hues, a pair of colors (blue/green, pink/orange, etc.)  or gray with any color (especially with mustard, purple or berry).

For a Color Dance look to represent all but 1-2 main colors (my Modern Meadow selections lack green and purple) or the complete rainbow.  Go light on neutral prints in grays or browns.

Consider Scale.  Each printed rectangle will finish at 5.25 x 9.5".  This is fairly large block, and serves large prints like the Modern Meadow tree well.  Medium scale prints are very effective.  Small prints like a small dot, tiny floral or thin stripe will give the quilt a more "simple" look.  I prefer a mix of large and medium scale prints.

Consider Variety.  Quilting fabric collections usually include a variation of dot, stripe and floral.  That's because a variety of print types adds to the fun.  If you're a classic type of gal, you may like an interpretation like Nicey JaneMeadowsweet is more vintage.  Good Folks (which I used on the original Colorbrick quilt) has a folksy flair and Urban Circus is completely playful.  But, if you look closely, they generally include a version of dot, stripe and floral.

Use Value.  Aim for a mix of light, mid and dark value prints.  Don't know about value?  See this post.  A quilt made up in one value can be a little flat and boring.  Don't worry overmuch here, it's not rocket science.  If you like it - great!

Choosing Your Solid

The Colobrick quilt is sashed and backed in a solid neutral.  Since the sashing is the grout, I suggest a neutral brown, white or pale gray.  The quilt has a solid backing in the same neutral as the sashing, which keeps things simple (beginner quilt, remember?) and showcases the stair-step quilting design.

I ♥ Linen!  Natural linen is what I used on the original Colorbrick and it's what I'll be using this time too. is a great source for linen that's nice and wide, so that you don't have to piece the back at all.  I'll be using the IL019 in Natural, which is just $5.97 a yard!  If you purchase your linen from, choose from any of the colors in the IL019 line, since it's a medium weight linen and all colors are 59" wide.  You'll need 3 3/4 yards of linen, but you'll have to buy 4 yards, since they only cut full yards.

Most fabrics are not manufactured at 59" wide.  The standard width is 44 or 45" wide.  Kona Cotton is 44/45" wide and Essex Linen/Cotton Blend is 43" wide.  If you buy your neutral in any of these widths you'll need to buy 5 yards total.  Sew Fresh Fabrics, who is a great source of both Kona and Essex, is offering my readers free shipping on an order of $30 or more.  Just note that you are participating in the Colorbrick Quilt-Along and they will refund your shipping fees within 48 hours! A nice white is Kona SnowKona Ash is a well-loved light gray.  And, at this listing you can compare Kona Stone and Natural.  Essex Cotton/Linen in Natural is lighter and grayer than most natural linen.  But, it is the neutral I used hereEssex Putty is a darker neutral shade.  And, Essex comes in white too.

Linen, Kona Cotton or Essex Linen/Cotton? I'll be honest - linen is not as easy to work with as cotton.  It tends to be a little shifty when cutting and sewing.  For me, it's worth it because I love the look and texture.  It's so natural, so earthy.  Essex is a linen/cotton blend precisely designed to marry the beauty of linen with the ease of sewing on cotton.  It is as easy as Kona to work with, but not as pretty as linen in my opinion.  Honestly, not as pretty by far.  Some suggest using starch to prevent linen from shifting while cutting/sewing.

If You Buy Linen from remember that you need only 4 yards.  Your fabric is so wide that you won't have to stitch together a backing at all.  One large piece will do the trick!

If You Buy Essex Linen/Cotton or Kona remember that you need 5 yards of fabric.  Also, your quilt is wider than this fabric, so you will have the piece together a quilt backing that is big enough.  This doesn't have to be difficult, but it is one more step.  To avoid a random-seam-line appearance, I'll recommend that you piece together 1 row of 5 bricks to span the backing with solid on each side.

Phew!!!  A complete materials list will be posted tomorrow!


  1. I'll have to remember this for when I am ready to start my next quilt, once I finish my Little Folks that is. I love your choices!! I have a few of those prints in fat quarter size already.

  2. I don't think I can pass up this quiltalong! I have a pile of fabrics that have been waiting for the right quilt design...and I think this is it. I'll post a picture in Flickr.

  3. Do you pre-wash the linen? On cold? I stress about uneven shrinkage on linen (back) and cotton (front).

  4. Rachel - this ongoing tutorial is quite the project you have taken on. I think you will be great at it. I will be spending this weekend with some friends, clearing some land so I will have plenty of time to talk myself into following along with everyone else on your blog. I must say your finished quilt is stunning. Each "brick" is like a jewel. Good luck. Carolina

  5. Rachel, I sooo want to join in and am going to try! The thing is, I want one EXACTLY like yours! I may actually have most of those AMHorner fabrics in my stash. Would you mind? Such an awesome post with fantastic tips. Thank you!

  6. What a great quiltalong. You are so great with all of your insights about quilting. Thanks for the info on selecting fabrics. Loving AMHorner and Amy Butler fabric styles, I really like the ones you have chosen. They blend together perfectly. Have a happy quilt of a weekend.


  7. Oh wow! Im so excited to stumble upon this! Im new to quilting, and this seems like the perfect project! Thank you :-)

  8. I wouldn't mind :) I'd love for you to join in!

  9. Yes, I definitely recommend prewashing! I prewash mine on cold or warm and tumble dry. As long as you know you'll only ever wash it on cold, prewashing in cold is fine!

  10. Cool! Can't wait to see your pic :)

  11. [...] on September 18, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Reply Colorbrick: Choosing Fabrics « Stitched in Color [...]

  12. I think I'm going to have to jump in too - can't resist - and I've got a fat quarter bundle that I love but I haven't been sure what to do with it.

  13. Ordered my fat quarters and the backing arrived yesterday! I am so excited to start this. I have been wanting to make a quilt for a while now. This is just the inspiration I needed. Thanks.

  14. Dear Rachel, I have been saving my Anna Maria's Good Folks FQ bundle for a very special project and I believe this is it! They are all getting washed and pressed tomorrow!
    Thank you for doing this quilt-along. Can't wait!
    Valentina in faraway Cyprus

  15. FINALLY ordered some Kona Stone a good deal online at Fabric Shack...all Kona is $4.19/yd and the shipping is only $2.50 for up to $75 worth of merchandise!!!

  16. Love this quilt! Just getting started. How big is the finished quilt?

  17. Welcome, Callee! Your finished Colorbrick quilt will measure approximately 52.5" x 67". You could make it wider or longer by adding more bricks!

  18. Do you know what the difference is between the softened linen and the regular linen (both are from the IL019 Content 100% Linen line).

    Is the softened oh so soft? Or is the regular pretty nice? I've never used linen in a quilt so have no idea what it feels like...


  19. I didn't notice much of a difference with the little swatch samples I received, but it would be hard to tell with little squares. I'd wonder if the softened process involves nasty chemicals? Linen softens with washing over time. Washed just once, the regular is not all that soft, but it's not harsh and scratchy at all. Not as soft as kona.

  20. Thanks! Is it weighty, linen? I'd like to use this as a nice comfy couch blanket. I've got the Folks Flannel to use for the top but would like to mix up the textures and use linen for the rest if it has a good weight. Heavier than kona?

  21. Yes, I do think it is heavier than Kona. But, it is there medium-weight linen. If you really want weight, they do have a natural heavy weight linen. I bought some to use for curtains!

  22. I'm just started the Colorbrick quilt now...stumbled upon this tutorial. I'm very excited! I just finished washing and ironing all my fat quarters.

  23. WOW I just found your blog and I am so excited to try this quilt. Thanks

  24. I know this was posted a couple of years ago but have you ever tried's linen/cotton blend fabric? I'm wondering if that might be softer than the pure linen? I was hoping to use it for quitls. I was hoping for an alternative to Essex.


Related Posts with Thumbnails